Two astronomers. Separated by only 22 degrees, 58 minutes of latitude, 33 degrees, 29 minutes of longitude, yet seemingly worlds apart. Their common goal: figure out the very nature of the Universe and its womenfolk.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Con, sonar - crazy Ivan!

Apologies for the recent down-time, it seems Blogger wiped us out for a bit, but a quick republish seems to have resurrected us.

So, Nic Ross and I hit London during the week for a media course at the Royal Society. I'd strongly recommend this course to my fellow science bods - they seem to be run every couple of months. It was nice to be taught by a real pro - Judith Hann (best known for Tomorrow's World) - and also get into discussion with other scientists. Climate change seems to be the zeitgeist, but Nic and I certainly got quizzed heavily about what's going on in astroville.

We had some spare time on Tuesday so headed over to the Royal Observatory to get nostalgic. Sadly Nic and I are crap navigators and, having got lost, arrived 5mins too late to be admitted. Here's an ironic photographic testimony, which you can click for a zoomtastic taste of chronological humour:

All was not lost. Firstly, the observatory affords this awesome view of the Canary Wharf district:

Also, Nic cajoled me into convincing the warden at the observatory that we were close friends of the Astronomer Royal (we didn't mention which one). Amazingly this worked and we were allowed to sneek in for a quick snap across the meridian:

Jesus I need to lose some weight. Anyway, the time not spent in the R.O. was spent, much to Nic's chagrin, at the Cutty Sark whereupon I delivered my best Captain Jack Aubrey lines (much talk of not having a moment to lose, excellent seamanship, best of two weevils etc). Sadly Nic's appreciation of my JA doesn't equal Jim's.

Enough rambling - we also met up with ex-mofo Dr. Rich Whitaker, drank mojitos, and narrowly avoided boogying in Soho's gayest nightclub. On the way home we discovered a mutual love of "The Hunt For Red October" and proceeded to annoy fellow travellers with lines from the film.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Anyone want to own a Hitler?

Needless to say the auctioning of Hitler's water colors in a sleepy cornish town, has made my blood boil ( Why would someone pay 5000£ of good money for a mediocre painting by a failed artist who invested his napolean complex into fantasies of world wide domination and mass murder? This is beyond me.

Carlton has suggested that soon I will lose my rights to an ICC desk. This has made me sad in so many ways.

Rob is in London with Nicolas Ross being educated on speaking about science in public, or something. Hence I have no one to remind me that its coffee time and have missed or arived too late to coffee today. Needless to say the lack of afternoon and mid-morning caffiene and socialisation has discombobulated by constitution.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Immensely cool

I really wish I'd taken this photo. It's the International Space Station and the shuttle Atlantis shortly after they undocked, while they transited the Sun last Sunday. Really nice stuff. Clicky [here] for big pic.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Goodbye Tomcat

Forgive my nerdyness, but today is the end of an era, for the US Navy officially retires the F14 Tomcat from service today. The F14 is the coolest aircraft the Americans have ever produced - not even Tom Cruise could tarnish its coolness.

I propose a Top Gun themed visit to the pub after work so Jim and I can recite lines from the film.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My cosmic order

Thanks to Stotty for drawing my attention to Cosmic Ordering, the solution to the world's problems [here]. I'm about to shout my order out of the OC320 window (Geach will probably hear it over in third-world-astroville). But in case the cosmos isn't listening but does have an RSS feed, here goes. Dear Cosmos, I'd like:

1. A Mercedes SLK
2. A MacPro, preferably with the ATI video card, and 4Gb of RAM.
3. A signed photo of Natalie from French Maid TV.

No rush Mr. Cosmos. You can deal with Stotty's seeing first.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Needs no comment

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Outrageous Calculations

Having discovered that by 2060 we'll be able to simulate the entire visible Universe at solar mass resolution (if Moore's Law holds), I started wondering:

1) How much storage would it need? Assuming each particle had 8 variables at 8 bytes each, Craig, John Helly and I reckoned 45 zettabytes. (4.5x10**22 bytes).
2) If you used a stack of 300Gb hard disks, how big would it have to be? Well, if they're an inch thick then it'd reach to the Moon and back 5 times.

John also thought that if it were held on Commodore 64 tapes, the cardboard box required to store them under your bed would be 24km on a side. I hope therefore that USB keyrings continue to foster a miniturisation in data storage technology.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Philosophiæ Doctor

Despite my relapse in navel-gazing over the summer, I feel it is my duty (if not my pleasure) to mantain co-authorship of thsi blog whilst I am still in druham. Alas, soon I will no longer be an ICCmofo and will have turned into a JlemGeordie. So whilst my residence continues to be da ICC I will continue my introspection.

As news travels fast in small places, most of you reading this will know that I am now a Pretty Huge Daddy. With my viva finished and my corrections all but accepted, the time is fast approuching when i must bid this small medeval town farewell. The truth is that besides having what feels like a HUGE burden lifted from my shoulders, life is pretty much the same as pre doc. Im still not used to the title (although I doubt that I - unlike condoleeza rice - will ever make explicit use of it). I'm glad its all over, and im glad I no longer have to deal with the manic depression of a Phd. The phenomenal success contrasting the life-sucking failures. Unfortunately, the segmentation faults, the floating point exceptions, the Killed messages are not over, but at least now I can feel more ambivolent about them.

Now that I am a philospher I am going to go home and philosophize.

Cogito Ergo Sum?

Pah! It's not about *thinking* Rene dear boy, it's about other people thinking of your work. For today, September 13th 2006, I have officially come into scientific existence.

Why? I have received my first scientific citation! WOOOOOOOO! OK, a couple of caveats to calm the detractors:

1) It's to a paper that not yet submitted (blame my boss, not me - it was pseudo-ready in May)
2) I was cited by a collaborator. One that works in the same building. Yes, ok, it was Ian - who is perpetually helpful.

But nonetheless I feel like I have made my contribution and no longer need to bear guilt. I'm off to live like Oliver Reed now. Check out the first page here:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A change of career

Noam received his ballot for the New York primary elections today. Displeased with the choices for head of the civil judiciary, he opted to nominate me for the role. Thanks Noam! I'll be waiting for NYC to get in touch - I need an exit strategy, especially after Dave Alexander made it clear today in his seminar that decent astronomy jobs are so hotly contested.

Along such lines, I keep urging myself to buy a MacPro and train myself in the ways of creative IT. Maybe I can make music videos and hang with cool people and hot chicks. I suspect it wouldn't work out though, as I'd get bored of them all saying "what a bangin' choon" the latest video is for, when clearly it's some R&B drivel or shitty hip-hop. Now, if they'd had MacPros in the 70s/80s (and I was born 30 years earlier), imagine what I could have done for KC and the Sunshine Band and the likes of Duran Duran. I could have CGI'd the "Rio" video onto a much cooler yacht. Or a man-o-war: something that looked like HMS Victory, except covered in supermodels. Jesus, I'm giving my ideas away - I reckon Will Young might go for something like that. Although he might want male models and I don't think I could put my heart into a project like that.

Jesus H Christ, where the hell have I gone with this post? Better think about galaxies again for a while.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A week behind...

A couple of busy weeks have really stopped the blog in its tracks, and I have no idea where Noam is these days so he's unlikely to contribute. So, I'll try to catch up.

Last weekend we played host to Kat's Dad, Nan, and sister. We hopped over to Newcastle to check the usual haunts, and had a great laugh in the Baltic when we were allowed to invade Surasi Kusolwong's wacky...erm..."art", which essentially meant riding mini-motorbikes around an art gallery:

That's about it really....just been working since then. Boring eh? To be honest, I can't be honest blogging today because I've just discovered a goldmine of awesome podcasts and rss feeds, and I've sat here watching the net like an automaton. I'll try to be more interesting soon.